[Python-Dev] Searching Python docs (Was: Python sidebar for Mozilla/Netscape)

John Machin sjmachin@lexicon.net
Sat, 06 Apr 2002 10:14:00 +1000

[I asked:]
> > Is it a FAQ why this kit is not in the Pythonlabs Win32 distribution 
> > instead of the "bunch of HTML files" kit? I understand that 
> > it's in the Activestate dist'n.

[Fred Drake]
>It's generally not available when the Windows installer is built.
>Hernan is quick, but not *that* fast!

[Tim Peters]
If Fred volunteers to produce .chm files in time for a release,
I'll ship 'em.  Don't hold your breath <wink>.
our-support-for-the-windows-distro-is-bug-driven-ly y'rs  - tim

Now read on ...

Tim's tag-line might explain it all to me if I could nut outexactly what he meant. 
However, blundering on in blissful ignorance of the logistics,
legalities, real-politik, etc:

(1) .chm format is better for the windows distro than the .html format
(2) [not sure why Tim used the plural "files"] One big .chm file is better 
than multiple smaller ones -- e.g. will find PyArg_BuildValue() without the punter
needing to know whether it's in the the E&E manual or in the C API
manual :-)
(3) A script can be developed [Hernan presumably has at least the foundation 
for this] to create the .chm file from the .html files
so that producing the .chm file at release time requires neither volunteer
nor conscript intervention ...

And some afterthoughts on Tim's tagline, which in my ignorance I interpreted as indicative 
of a somewhat reactive attitude to the win32 distro [I'd be utterly delighted 
to be corrected if I'm wrong]:

(1) Judging from the traffic on c.l.py, 
Python seems to have reached the point in a
language's life cycle where it is attracting many novice users.
My guess is that most of those will be using the win32 distribution. Many of them
will no doubt refuse to RTFM, but for those who will, providing them with the docs
in .chm format (and actively promoting it) might cut down on the "support cost" of the
traffic on c.l.py.

(2) In two application development shops with which I am engaged, the main application 
runs on a large Unix box, but the developers' and DBAs' workstations are  Windows (2000) PCs --
is this atypical?
I am evangelising Python to them -- while certainly not critical, better doc formats, 
positive attitude to win32 distro, etc etc wouldn't hurt.